Illegal commune in foreclosed Escondido home evicted, residents now homeless



A group of previously homeless, low-income residents who lived illegally in a foreclosed Escondido home, turning it into a community that other residents decried as an eyesore, were evicted last month when a court ruled that they had no legal right to live there, leaving many to face homelessness again.

The group of six to 10 people, though the exact number is unclear, shared the 2,000-square-foot home on a one-acre dirt lot on West El Norte Parkway in Escondido. Some of them had been living there for more than two years.

The previous owner, Robert E. Donelson, died in 2019. His daughter-in-law, Terry Bearer, continued to live in the house after Donelson’s death and began inviting others to live with her, creating a kind of commune, or as the residents have described it. – a family.

Most residents had some form of income and obligated each other to contribute financially for things like food and electricity. The ground rules they created included no fighting, no drugs, and everyone had to make their weight.

However, they paid no rent or mortgage, and the house belonged to the federal government.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development purchased the property in a foreclosure sale, said Baron Tennelle, an attorney representing HUD, after the owner defaulted on his reverse mortgage in September 2021.

In May 2022, San Diego Judge Robert Longstreth ruled that HUD could evict people living on the property because they weren’t paying mortgages or rent, and they had no legal right to be there. . The city of Escondido has also filed a lawsuit against residents, citing code violations and attempting to declare the property a public nuisance following regular complaints from neighbors about litter and disturbance.

On July 6, the residents were evicted.

Juliana Musheyev, an activist with the San Diego branch of the Liberation and Socialism Party, which helps locals, told Voice of San Diego that many are now homeless and living on the streets; three of them, including Steve Wood, whom Voice has previously spoken to, are in prison; and two of them live in their trailers.

Teresa Exline is one of the residents who lived in her trailer. She describes her new life as “hectic” and causing her “constant anxiety”. She told Voice that she was ‘harassed’ by police officers almost daily and got yelled at by nearby business owners, even though she was careful not to park too close to them.

Exline is one of the few people in the group who still has a job, but she says she doesn’t earn enough to find stable housing.

She said her former housemates split up because it was hard for them to stay together, but they keep in touch and help each other out when they can.

“I’ve been in contact with all of us,” Exline said. “We have all met several times before. We kind of have touch bases: ‘Are you okay?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘You need something?’ ‘Nope.’ You know, they either park overnight or we help each other out with gas.

Interfaith Community Services, a homeless outreach organization, has helped residents with food stamps and similar resources, she said, but the organization’s homeless shelter in Escondido is at capacity. , CEO Greg Anglea told The Coast News.

“There is a big misconception or lack of understanding from people in the community that if someone is homeless and wants help they might just agree to go to a shelter” , Anglea told The Coast News. “While this may be true in the city of San Diego, which has 2,000 shelter beds, there are only 99 brick-and-mortar shelter beds for more than 1,400 people homeless in one night in North San Diego County.”

Exline said she appreciates the people of Interfaith, who seem to be doing all they can, but blames the city itself for not having more to offer.

“The services are not there and, despite that, the cops are harassing them,” Mushayev said. “They either have to make it possible for them to sleep in their cars or sleep in their tents without the cops harassing them, or give them a place to stay.”

Mushayev added that she and other advocates plan to speak at the public comment portion of the Escondido City Council meeting on Aug. 10.

In other news

  • ICYMI: Escondido City Council voted last week to send a sales tax measure to the November ballot. If approved, the measure would implement a 3/4 cent sales tax increase for 15 years that could generate about $21 million a year. Residents and city leaders hope the new revenue could ease the city’s fiscal problems. (Voice of San Diego)
  • Vista Community Clinic launched its first senior-focused clinic Monday, providing comprehensive health care to low-income seniors in the community. The new Durian Senior Adult Care facility will serve adults aged 65 or older. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego Gas & Electric officials said they were no longer consider The Shoppes at Carlsbad Mall as a potential site for a regional maintenance site. More than 11 sites have been reviewed so far as possible replacements for the existing North Shore Service Center at Carlsbad Boulevard and Cannon Road. Carlsbad City Council is growing increasingly frustrated with the length of time it took SDG&E to identify a new site, the council said last week. (Union-Tribune)

Joan D. Boling